Justine Hansberry is just one of the many core volunteers helping to grow the Ipswich Good Food Group. This month she took a moment to share her thoughts on being an active member-volunteer.
When did you first get involved with the Ipswich Good Food Group? What motivated you to join?
I've been involved with IGFG for about three years now. I really love it. I had a few reasons why I joined. I read a book called "Sober Living For the Revolution" by Gabriel Kuhn. The book is basically a lot of interviews with people from the punk/straight edge scene from around the world and how they persist in a capitalist society and interfere with it by operating on a DIY level or by participating in things like food co-ops, which move away from the 'middle man' of grocery stores and work directly with farmers. When I moved to Ipswich, I just sought a group that would reflect those values and here I am three years on!
So, primarily my reason to participate was political and to show through my actions that I'm not happy with the current state of things. I also prefer to support farmers directly (or as directly as possible), rather than supporting large grocery stores. I also really love healthy eating and organic fruit and veges. What a treat to have them on your plate!
What volunteer roles have you filled at IGFG?
My primary role is in membership renewals, but I've done a fair stint on the tills and setting up as well. I am also known for being annoying to other volunteers and trying out any comedy ideas I have on them while I wait to buy stuff. Much to the other volunteers detriment.
IGFG is a membership-based, volunteer-run bulk buyers group. How necessary is it for members to volunteer some time?
It is unbelievably essential for volunteers to throw their hat in the ring! Not only does it give you a sense of being a part of something really good, but you're an active participant in how you see your food life progress as well as how you see Ipswich progress!
Whether it's in choosing what food you buy or having a say in how your money works for you and the group as a community. I think it's also essential for people to volunteer because otherwise everything is left to a select few who work tirelessly to keep things going as it is.
I really enjoy participating and I love feeling a part of something that is good for farmers, consumers, the environment and Ipswich. I love the sense of actually doing something, rather than just sitting on the side lines and thinking 'oh, someone else will do it'. I guess rather than being a passenger, you can actually be in the driver's seat and be the change you want to see in your world, in a small rewarding way.
In what ways can new members volunteer time to IGFG?
I think in a myriad of ways. I would recommend giving it a go on the cash registers. You get to meet the other volunteers and you get to see first hand how things operate. Setting up is also a great way to learn about how things run and see all the amazing produce we get in. I do the memberships and I'm sure there are probably other background tasks that need to be performed if you're not able to be on the front lines of the shop or if you're time poor, things like learning how to order stock and so on.
What have your experiences volunteering for IGFG taught you?
My experiences at IGFG have taught me a lot about understanding what's happening with farmers, in all shades. Not just dairy farmers, but rice farmers, soy etc. I've learned a lot about the beautiful side of Ipswich and it's community who are committed and hold similar values to me in terms of protecting the environment and understanding that capitalism and democracy in it's current state is not working for the 'little guy' in Australia or world wide. People are seeking a better life through community, rather than looking to our governments or major corporations to provide that for us. With IGFG, that relationship with community and farmers is a great building block to a better life for everyone involved. And you get to eat healthy, delicious food to boot!
To find out more or to add your name to the monthly roster go to https://www.ipswichgoodfood.org/volunteer
Interview by Dave Smith with Justine Hansberry